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FA asking exit row passengers if they speak English

FA asking exit row passengers if they speak English

 
Old Jul 26, 06, 12:02 am
  #31  
rkm
 
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Next time I'm singled out with "Do you speak English?" I plan to smile and reply, "I know I don't look like it, but yes." Hopefully, the questioner would then realize that (s)he was stereotyping based on appearance and apologize.
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Old Jul 26, 06, 5:20 am
  #32  
 
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Originally Posted by SEA_Tigger
They may have indeed been asked due to their ethnicity, but I doubt it was intended as a racial slight or insult, rather a check to ensure they met the requirements.
I think so too...and I don't see anything wrong with it as long as t is not done in a derogatory manner. I've been on a couple of UX flights in the exit row as a 1P and I've always been asked if I speak English. I can't remember whether the other exit-row pax were asked it, but it was done politely each time and it didn't occur to me that it happened because I was non-white. There are worse ways to be racially discriminated against.
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Old Jul 26, 06, 6:23 am
  #33  
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Originally Posted by crazycrab955
Now, granted, she couldn't have known for sure that they were both American or Canadian (I overheard them talking as they sat down), but couldn't any of the other passengers been non-English speakers as well? The strange thing is, if they were assigned these seats, wouldn't reservations or the GA ask this question if they had any concern about English fluency?
Canadians speak English?

Those pax could have assigned seats online, checked in online, and boarded the plane w/o ever coming into contact w/ any UA staff who would evaluate their ability to speak English.

I see no problem w/ the FA's question, but it may have been better received if she asked, "Can everybody speak English?" so as not to discriminate based on appearance.
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Old Jul 26, 06, 7:30 am
  #34  
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If I am not in F or C, I am in an Exit Row on UA flights, and admit that I have never had an FA ask myself or any of my seatmates, regardless of ethnicity, if they spoke English or any other language. They always just ask if we are willing to assist them in the event of an emergency evacuation.
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Old Jul 26, 06, 8:15 am
  #35  
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Originally Posted by rkm
Next time I'm singled out with "Do you speak English?" I plan to smile and reply, "I know I don't look like it, but yes." Hopefully, the questioner would then realize that (s)he was stereotyping based on appearance and apologize.
Or they'll just think you arrogant. I agree with the person who answered 'yes' this all a tempest in a teapot.
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Old Jul 26, 06, 7:42 pm
  #36  
 
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Originally Posted by 747LWW
Heck, why not just ask everone
LWW
Absolutely. Not to avoid offending anyone; we're way too sensitive these days, but simply because you never know-perhaps the "American-looking" folks are German and really don't speak English that well. Better to just ask everyone.
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Old Jul 26, 06, 10:40 pm
  #37  
 
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Angry

I posted this very same topic here few months ago, where I was racially discriminated on a UAX flight from SJC-LAX. My topic was viewed over 1000 times in just 3-5 days, with several hundred replies and eventually removed by the moderator.

On a UAX flight SJC-LAX, the FA asked the exit row question to all passengers in the exit row 8 (UAX CRJ-200). When I simply answered "Yes" with the other passengers, the FA stared right at me and said, "Sir, you need to answer me in a complete English sentence." When I told her that I am an American and speak English, she replied, "You never know these days, I need you to answer in a complete English sentence." I felt humiliated and racially discriminated.

I wrote a complaint letter to the UA Client Relations folks, I received a letter back few weeks later saying that this is not a UA matter and that the case had been routed to the "UAX - Skywest Airline." Couple of months later, I received a letter from the Skywest Airline Director with their safety protocal information, instead of an apology.
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Old Jul 26, 06, 10:57 pm
  #38  
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Every flight that I've been on where I'm in the exit row I've seen the FAs ask everybody in BOTH rows for confirmation that they speak English. On three of my flights there were at least two people who did not speak English and were reseated. I have never encountered a FA who has not handled this professionally and effectively.

As a matter-of-fact each of the FAs have, more often than not, asked each person individually to "please respond" rather than just nodding.
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Old Jul 26, 06, 11:26 pm
  #39  
 
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Originally Posted by cj001f
this (sic) all a tempest in a teapot.
It's not a trifling matter if FAA/airline guidelines are to be followed. If FAs ONLY ask non-white passengers if they speak English, then they HAVE NOT ensured that ALL exit row passengers (i.e. foreign European/white passengers) can follow directions in English. That's the main issue.

The other issue is whether FAs WRONGLY assume that most non-white passengers don't speak English and go about determining it in a way that unnecessarily causes passengers to be feel singled-out as "foreign.". It's just as easy to do it in a way that is subtle and professional.
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Old Jul 26, 06, 11:52 pm
  #40  
 
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Originally Posted by BlissWorld
Sometimes humor sandwiched between insult is the best comeback to an offensive question

I've witnessed FA targeting someone with the same question, and the passenger's response was "Nein, aber Ich kanne Deutsch sprechen" when, clearly, I would have never guessed this guy spoke German. When the FA looked he responded to the FA, "if you teach me English I will teach you German."
Oooh, I should use that myself!
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Old Jul 27, 06, 12:52 am
  #41  
 
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If you get offended easily, then don't sit in the exit row where you might be....
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Old Jul 27, 06, 2:04 am
  #42  
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Originally Posted by iluv2fly
I agree. What the FA did was presumptious. Treat everyone equally.
If indeed the FA singled out the Asian pax and did not challenge any others, this clearly was racial discrimination.

I am no bleeding-heart, but the FA was not only presumptuous, but condescending as well, and did not represent at all UA's global orientation.

I'd have sought he purser to get the FA written up.
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Old Jul 27, 06, 2:05 am
  #43  
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Originally Posted by Potreroflyr
It's not a trifling matter if FAA/airline guidelines are to be followed. If FAs ONLY ask non-white passengers if they speak English, then they HAVE NOT ensured that ALL exit row passengers (i.e. foreign European/white passengers) can follow directions in English. That's the main issue.

The other issue is whether FAs WRONGLY assume that most non-white passengers don't speak English and go about determining it in a way that unnecessarily causes passengers to be feel singled-out as "foreign.". It's just as easy to do it in a way that is subtle and professional.
100% correct.
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Old Jul 27, 06, 2:44 am
  #44  
 
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Recently on an AMS-IAD flight, I was in the exit row, sat next to a German woman who spoke a bit of English but not quite enough to answer the FA's question about "fulfilling duties in case of an emergency" with confidence. The FA told her to watch the security demonstration and then she would ask her if she understood. I showed the woman next to me the safety instructions card and pointed to the German language section. When the FA came back the woman said she understood and told the FA that I would help her if there was any problem. The FA accepted this and let her stay where she was seated.

On my connecting flight, there was a 50-something Latina woman in the exit row who got booted from her seat for not speaking English. She ended up sitting next to me, and I can tell you that she spoke as much English as the German woman did. She even had an English-language magazine that she was reading! Maybe there is a difference between German speakers and Spanish speakers...
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